I am researching codes of conduct in Victorian England. I believe that the code of Victorian ‘respectability’ shall be the key-stone to much of what i am interested in illuminating. I am a history student, and the phenomenon of Victorian ‘respectability’ has been touched upon a little, but nothing,as far as i can tell, which has dealt with it in a sustained manner. The prospects look even bleaker, again from my limited knowledge, when it comes to sociology. I am appealing for any secondary works in sociology or history that any one might know about which may help me. I know Elias dealt somewhat briefly with the bourgeois ‘rationality’, but i am unclear on his position so any thoughts on this from the wider community would be helpful.
A fruitful conceptual space seems to be opened when one considers the relationship between Weber _Protestant Ethic_ and Elias’s _Civilizing Process_ , has anyone elucidated this in any detail? Finally, what are the list’s thoughts on ‘respectability’ more generally? Has ‘respectability’ vanished from the cultural landscape, or has it been sublimated?
Thanking you for your all your support.
3 Responses to Respectability
In response to your request for general ideas about respectability, please see the first half of Elias’s TCP for his analysis of shame in etiquette manuals. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I think that respectability, and hundreds of other cognates, are about pride and shame.
We don’t use the word much any more, but try modern cognates, like REPUTATION, standing, etc.
Re bourgeois rationality and Elias, I found that the sociology/social history of money and finance provided an interesting avenue to explore – if its of interest, this appears in a couple of papers (Newton, T.J. ‘Credit and Civilization’. British Journal of Sociology, 2003, 54 (3): 347-371, and Newton, T.J. From Freemasons to the Employee: Organization, History and Subjectivity. Organization Studies, 2004, 25 (8): 1393-1418 – note this is ‘in press’ but I can supply). Credit and finance networks provide interesting examples of figurational change, particularly in relation to their implications for subjectivity.
To go some way to answering my own question i note that Robert van Krieken address the relationship between Elias and Weber in his _Social Discipline and State Formation: Weber and Oestreich on the historical sociology of subjectivity_. Here he notes that Elias criticized Weber for being too idealist in his methodology. But as he later notes Weber was simply demonstrating one facet of the relationship between the spirt of capitalism and religious belief and was not making totalizing claims of a cause and effect nature.